Ultimate Guide To Choosing Better Wheels/Rims (Improve Your Car’s Value)

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Updated December 2, 2022

Looking to upgrade your rims? In this guide, you will learn:

  • How rims can increase the value of your car
  • How to pick the right rims for your vehicle
  • How much rims can cost
  • What to do with your old rims
  • Many tips and tricks about rims

Let’s get started!

Ultimate Guide To Choosing Better Rims - Improve Your Car's Value

Table of Contents

Are you looking to buy new rims for your vehicle? Possibly concerned that you might be wasting your money if you end up selling it?

Don’t worry! I have been in the tire industry for over nine years, where my sole purpose was to install (and sell) rims and tires. I know everything there is about wheels/rims. 

Today, I will share all this knowledge I have so you have a better understanding of how wheels/rims can improve your car’s looks and increase its value.

NOTE: Wheels/Rims mean the same thing, and for the duration of this guide, I will use the word rims and wheels interchangeably to make it a more effortless reading experience.

How Do Rims Improve Your Car’s Value?

Original equipment rims come with the vehicle’s emblem in the center of the wheel and may look nice depending on your selected wheel package. Did you know that getting the upgraded trim wheel packages can cost you up to three thousand dollars more?

That’s right, so who is to say that you can’t add that kind of extra value to your vehicle? You might be thinking I don’t want to spend an additional two to three grand to upgrade my rims.

You don’t have to! Getting a brand-new set of rims can cost as little as five to seven hundred dollars(depending on the size and fitment). I will go into detailed pricing later in this guide.

The beauty of upgrading your rims is that nobody knows what your upgraded rims cost you or what they are actually worth. For example, a few years ago, I was looking at a used Ram 1500, and the dealership was pushing how nice and expensive the aftermarket rims were. They were trying to justify tacking on an extra $3000 by using the rims as leverage!

With me being the expert I am, they were blown away when I told them the rims on the vehicle were only worth $800, and it was absurd trying to justify an extra three grand for rims. Needless to say, I walked away without a truck.

If I were just some average Joe(no pun intended) looking for a new truck, they probably would have gotten away with the upcharge. This is just a perfect example of how new rims could raise the value of your car. 

I’m Selling The Car, So The Rims Don’t Matter

If you are selling your car, it’s an even better reason to upgrade your rims! As I mentioned in my Ram 1500 scenario, you can justify putting a more expensive price tag on your vehicle with a shiny new set of rims.

When I would ask consumers if they were interested in replacing their rims, the biggest objection consumers would have is “no, I’m selling this car.” 

It almost made me think everyone’s car in town was up for sale. After explaining the benefits of added value, better aesthetics, and increased fuel economy due to aftermarket rims being lighter, some consumers would purchase a new set.

I have even had consumers come back and tell me they have profited an extra few hundred bucks from their purchase and then would buy a new set of rims for the new vehicle they purchased!

Remember, if you pitch rims the right way, people will find great value in them and appreciate you replacing them on the car you’re selling.

Aren’t Wheels Super Expensive?

Some aftermarket wheels can get into the thousands per wheel. These are going to be custom-built options that should only be purchased by someone with a vehicle they want to show off or who has thousands of dollars burning a hole in their pocket.

You can easily find new rims that cost as little as a hundred bucks per wheel.

On average, a new set of rims won’t cost any more than a good set of new tires and sometimes even cost less than tires. Depending on the vehicle you have, the price of rims can get pretty high, but almost always, there are inexpensive, high-quality options. 

Since you might be asking, “well, how will a new set of rims cost?” I went ahead and compared prices based on the type of vehicle and listed what I found below.

Passenger Sedans

For a new set of rims on vehicles like Honda Civics, Toyota Camrys, Hyundai Sonatas, and Nissan Sentras, you can expect to pay between $400 and $1200.

Sport Coupes

For vehicles such as Ford Mustangs, BMW Coupe Series, Chevrolet Camaros, and Audi A4 Coupes, you can expect to pay between $600 and $1500 to get a new set of rims. 

Crossovers

Are you driving a Honda CRV, KIA Sportage, Mazda CX-9, or any similar crossover vehicle? 

You can expect to pay between $500 and $1300 to get your rims swapped out with new ones.

SUVs

Chevrolet Suburbans/Tahoes, GMC Yukons, and Jeep Grand Wagoneers will cost you a little bit more since they will have larger rims and need to carry more weight. Expect to pay between $700 and $2000 

Half-Ton and Three-Quarter/One-Ton Pickups

These are big heavy vehicles that will often tow, and your new rims will need to be able to carry all that weight. Therefore, they will typically be the most expensive rims to replace, and the price range can range from $750 to $2000.

What Are Some Reasons I Should Replace My Wheels?

That is an excellent question. Why would anyone ever NEED to replace their wheels? Well, continue reading, and you will find all the great reasons why you should replace your wheels.

Vehicle Performance

Aftermarket wheels come in all sorts of different diameters and widths. When replacing your rims with ones that are bigger in diameter and wider in width will allow you to get higher performance sizes. 

Always follow rim width guidelines, and the tire size you want to go with has the proper load index to meet the vehicle’s weight carrying capacity.

Bent Wheels

Having a bent wheel means there is a flat spot on the bead seat area of the rim flange, which is typically found on the inner side. Bent wheels can cause several issues: premature suspension wear, ride vibrations from being out of round, and cause irregular wear patterns such as cupping.

These issues are much more expensive to fix than replacing your wheels. Therefore if you have noticed any of these things, take your vehicle to your local tire retailer and ask them to check for bent wheels.

Here is a great example of what a bent rim can look like.

Bent car wheels

Curb Appeal

What do some people care about more than anything? How other people perceive them and slapping a new set of rims on your vehicle will turn heads and look awesome!

Cracked Rim

Cracked wheels are extremely common in high-performing German vehicles like BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. These vehicles are designed and tested for the Autobahn, a highly well-maintained road. When these vehicles hit our rough, pot-hole-ridden American roads, the constant impact causes stress fractures on the inner lip of the rim.

I have seen this happen on almost every vehicle out there, but German cars, hands down, have the most issues with cracked rims. 

You can sometimes pay the same price for a set of four new rims rather than to replace one factory wheel. Factory wheels can cost between $500 and $1500. 

Gas Mileage

You would never expect that original equipment wheels weigh as much as double that of an aftermarket wheel. With that kind of weight reduction, you can save some serious gas. Some manufacturers like Konig make Ultra-Light wheels that feel almost the same weight as the box they come in.

Anyone looking to increase their fuel savings should look at new Ultra-Light wheels, especially because rims last practically forever.

Can You Pay To Have Your Rims Fixed Rather than Replace Them?

You absolutely can fix them rather than replace them. The kicker is that it costs, on average, $100-$250 depending on the severity of the damage. With new wheels costing the same, would you rather keep your current rims or upgrade to aftermarket ones that add value to your vehicle?

I would rather take the added value new rims offer than pay more to keep my original wheels. Everyone has different opinions but what I think is most important is to get the most bang for the buck whenever spending money. 

Also worth noting is that rims often don’t match the original color when they get repainted.

How Can I Tell What Size My Rims Are, And Does It Matter?

When shopping for new rims, it is crucial to ensure you are purchasing the correct size. Some aftermarket wheels have a zero return policy, and purchasing the wrong size will lead to you either purchasing new tires to fit them or trying to sell them to recoup your loss.

To find out your correct rim size, there are a couple of ways you can do this. The first is to go out to your car and look at the sidewall of your tire, and you will see a series of numbers that look something like 205/55R16 97V. The R16 is your rim diameter. Oddly enough, the R doesn’t stand for the rim. It stands for a radial tire.

The second way to determine your rim size is to look in the driver’s side door jam. There will be a placard sticker labeled tire info. It will have the original equipment tire size information stated. The first method is better since it is possible not to have the OE rims on your car. However, the second method is the way to go if you want to return to the original size. 

Here is a video of how to find your tire size.

What Color Wheels Should I Get?

I have owned just about every car and rim color combination out there. One of the perks of working for a tire company is the discounts on wheels and tires, and they incentivize you to buy new wheels for every vehicle you own. 

I think I have a pretty good sense of what colors look good, so I have listed great car colors and rim finish combinations below.

  • Black cars- Bronze or Matte/Gloss Black with silver accents
  • Silver cars- Gunmetal Gray 
  • White cars- Matte/Gloss Black, Red, or Bronze
  • Gray cars- Machined Silver or All Black
  • Red cars- Bronze or All Black 
  • Blue cars- Bronze is the only way to go

Are Certain Brand Wheels Better Than Others?

Just like tires, there are definitely higher-quality manufacturers than others. In my experience, low-quality rims tend to have paint fade, clear coat chipping, and less impact resistance than high-quality rims.

The pros of more expensive high-quality rims are that they are lighter, use higher quality paint, and are constructed with stronger alloys. These prevent the issues of paint chipping and being prone to bend while also giving you better fuel economy from a lighter construction.

Common manufacturers that offer high-quality products are TSW, Konig, Enkei, Fuel off-road wheels, and Method Race Wheels. Drag, Liquid Metal, and Vision Wheels are lower-quality manufacturers to look out for.

Going with anyone of these wheels to sell your vehicle won’t matter because issues with paint finishes don’t start appearing until three to four years down the road. Rims are also not like tires in the sense that going with a cheaper rim doesn’t mean that it suddenly fails or defects for no reason, as some cheap tires do.

When trying to increase the value of your vehicle, remember that the higher the quality of the product means higher value.

Where Are The Best Places To Buy New Rims?

Tires and rims are extremely similar because you can’t outright purchase them from the manufacturer. To buy a new set of rims, you must go through an authorized retailer of the  manufacturer.

Discount Tire

Discount Tire is the world’s largest tire and wheel retailer. It would almost be a no-brainer that they would be first on this list. They offer the most comprehensive selection and lowest prices of wheel retailers. I found that when comparing prices, they are incredibly competitive and edge out the competition ever so slightly in pricing even compared to TireRack. 

If you don’t have a Discount Tire nearby, you can shop online at Discount Tire Direct, which has the same pricing and still offers a price match guarantee.

TireRack

TireRack is the largest online tire and wheel retailer. I had to put them second for their availability of a vast wheel selection. They are not the cheapest but offer exclusive wheels, like their OZ wheels, which can only be found through TireRack. The online car visualizer they have seems to work exceptionally well and gives an accurate look at what your car’s appearance will be with new rims.

Les Schwab

The last company to make the cut was Les Schwab for their interactive online car visualizer. Compared to TireRack and Discount Tire, their pricing is much higher with a smaller selection available. If you have had bad experiences with DIscount or TireRack, this is where I recommend going. They also offer more services, such as wheel alignment, suspension work, and oil changes.

Do You Need To Buy New Tires And Tire Pressure Sensors With New Wheels?

Most of the time, you can get away with only buying new rims. It will depend on the condition of your current tires. Most retailers have guidelines in place that prohibit them from servicing tires that are too worn out or are in an unsafe condition. 

When it comes to the tire pressure sensors, if your vehicle is equipped with them, they can easily be swapped out from your current rims to your new ones. I recommend if you haven’t replaced your tire sensors and your vehicle is older than eight years, get them replaced. 

I recommend buying new tire pressure sensors online and then taking them to a tire retailer for installation, and you can easily find them by google searching your year, make, and model vehicle, then adding TPMS sensors. These sensors, on average, will cost $60 to $200 from retailers when you can find them online for around $20-$30 each. If you buy them online, make sure they are labeled as pre-programmed to ensure easy installation.

Installing new rims is a straightforward process that involves taking your current tires off your old ones and installing them on your new ones. Unless you have tires that are worn out, too old, or have tread separation, you should have no problem swapping out for rims.

What Is Wheel Width, And How Will It Affect The Vehicle? 

Wheel width is how wide the rim measures from bead seat to bead seat. The bead seat is located just inside the rim flange. The purpose of wheel width is to determine safe tire size fitments based on how wide the tire is vs. the wheel width.

Installing a tire that is too skinny for the wheel results in a stretched fitment. When a tire gets stretched, it puts a lot of stress on the beads and sidewall of the tire. I had a buddy who had stretched tires, and man, they were so stretched out he had to keep an air compressor in his car because they would constantly leak. Aside from leaking, they have an extremely high potential to de-bead and blow out.

On the flip side of being too skinny, when the tire is too wide for the wheel, it will lead to sidewall separation. The wheel being narrow causes too much stress on the sidewall from the weight of the vehicle.

Wheel width overall will affect how the vehicle handles. When going to a wider wheel, you are decreasing your turning radius and vice versa with a skinnier wheel. I recommend not to exceed the width by over one inch from the factory size to ensure your handling will not be adversely affected.

Here is a perfect example of a tire that is way too stretched out.

Stretched out tire - what is wheel width

What Can You Do With Your Old Rims?

I get asked a lot about what you are supposed to do with your old wheels. My answer is the same every time.

If you don’t want anything to do with your old rims, the retailer you are having them installed at can take them and recycle them for you. Keep in mind the tire retailer profits off of your old wheels by either selling them or getting paid for the scrap value of the metal.

I recommend keeping your old wheels and selling them privately through Craigslist, FaceBook marketplace, or any listing website used in your area. If your old wheels are in good enough shape, you can often recoup the cost of your replacement rims.

When I bought a set of new wheels and tires on my 4Runner, I was able to sell them on Craigslist. By doing this, I recouped eighty percent of the cost of my new wheels and tires, making my cost only twenty percent of the retail price. That’s what I call great value!

Are There Any Drawbacks To New Wheels/Rims?

Of course, with any replacement of vehicle parts, there can be drawbacks. Still, for wheels, the only liability will be if the retailer you went to either sold you wheels that aren’t a perfect fitment or installed them improperly. 

Since aftermarket wheels are designed to fit various vehicles, you will see the hub bore will be much larger than your original wheels, which is where hub rings come in.

When installing new rims, you need to make sure they come with hub-centering rings. Hub rings are designed to create a snug fit in the hub bore of the wheel on the hub of the vehicle. If hub rings are not installed, it can cause severe vibrations when driving.

If a tire retailer sells you a rim with a bolt pattern slightly off from what the vehicle has, it can cause the studs that hold the lug nuts to warp. When a stud starts to bend, it becomes weakened, resulting in the studs snapping off and your wheel flying off.

When purchasing wheels, I recommend going to a reputable installer who knows what they’re doing.

Wrap Up

New wheels can change the way your vehicle looks and stand out from the other thousands of like cars on the road. Aside from standing out, it can be a great way to add value to your vehicle, whether in the form of value for resale, gas mileage, performance, or saving you from costly repairs down the road.

After reading this guide, you are almost as much of a wheel expert as me, and now that you’re done reading, get out there to look for your next set of new rims!

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About The Author

Joe Steffen

Joe Steffen

Joseph Steffen is a trusted expert in the tire industry, with nine-plus years of experience. He has worked as a tire installer, tire salesman, and more recently a writer for various companies, providing honest feedback and advice to those who need it.

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